The central message of Jesus’ preaching was “the good news of the Kingdom of God” or “the Kingdom of heaven,” He called it sometimes. This message of the Kingdom was in Jesus’ times and ours, too, not only significant but needed. And if the news of the Kingdom was relevant for Jesus’ disciples. The message of this Kingdom must be once again central and relevant for today’s world.
John the Baptist prepared the way of the Lord announcing the Kingdom of God. “Repent, for the kingdom of heaven has come near.” He said, Matthew 3:2.
Reading the gospels, we can see that Jesus continued what John began. After John’s death, Jesus’ preaching was, “Repent, for the kingdom of heaven has come near.” Matthew 4:17. Verse 23 of the same chapter confirms this preaching when it says, “Jesus went throughout Galilee, teaching in their synagogues, proclaiming the good news of the kingdom.” The Kingdom is so crucial that for Jesus, God’s Kingdom and salvation are synonymous.
The Kingdom’s message was not strange to the early followers of Jesus and for the church he founded. His disciples continued His message; Paul is an excellent example of this. He preached the Kingdom also. Listen to Acts 20:25, Paul was on his way to Rome, and he knew his death was imminent; this is what he said: “Now I know that none of you among whom I have gone about preaching the kingdom will ever see me again.” The Kingdom was also central to Paul.
The message of the Kingdom is in the Bible from cover to cover, from Genesis to revelation. All we have to do is open the Bible, and we will realize how important this message is. Jesus instructed His followers to preach it. Luke 9:60, “Jesus said to him, “Let the dead bury their dead, but you go and proclaim the kingdom of God.” Matthew 24:14 says, “And, this gospel of the kingdom will be preached in the whole world as a testimony to all nations, and then the end will come.”
What made the message of the Kingdom such important news? Why was it so attractive to Jesus’ listeners? Because it was full of hope because it was not good news for the afterlife, as many Christians still believe and preach. But most of all, it was significant because everybody saw in Jesus the signs of God’s Kingdom.
When John the Baptist was in jail, he sent his disciples to Jesus with one question, “Are you the one who is to come, or should we expect someone else? At that very time –the gospel says- Jesus cured many who had diseases, sicknesses, and evil spirits, and gave sight to many who were blind. So he replied to the messengers, “Go back and report to John what you have seen and heard: The blind receive sight, the lame walk, those who have leprosy are cleansed, the deaf hear, the dead are raised, and the good news is proclaimed to the poor.
Jesus did not only preach the Kingdom; He gave signs of the Kingdom. He showed with His life how the Kingdom looks and how people must live in that Kingdom. Some years later, the apostle Paul said in first Corinthians 4:20, “For the kingdom of God is not a matter of talk but of power.”
In today’s gospel, Jesus talks about the Kingdom, however, He does not tell us precisely what the Kingdom is; He tells us what the Kingdom of God is like; He gives us an idea of its nature. The Kingdom is like a mustard tree, He says. Try to imagine Jesus teaching to the crowd and perhaps pointing to a mustard plant standing there in the field saying, ‘This mustard tree can illustrate the Kingdom of God. It is planted as a truly little seed. Now, look at how it grows! It is not like the mighty oak from Lebanon, but birds perch in its branches.
The mustard seed was the smallest of its kind in the ancient Near East. The mustard plant, however, could quickly grow to a height of 9 to 12 feet. That is why it can be described as a tree. What is the lesson we can get from this parable? When the Kingdom’s seed was planted in the world, it was a tiny seed, and what do you expect from a tiny seed? Only a small plant. Instead, what we have now is a tree that is big enough for birds to nest. Do you see that? This parable’s basic image involves a transformation from something exceedingly small -like twelve disciples- to something large enough to provide shelter. The Church of Jesus, the one spread worldwide, began with a small group of men and women. Now we are millions and millions. However, if we want to be Kingdom, we must remember, “the kingdom of God is not a matter of talk but power.” We must put our acting, where our preaching is. We cannot preach about a God of love and mercy if we do not have love and compassion; we cannot preach about a God of life if we support a culture of death.
Jesus also compares God’s Kingdom with yeast silently working, silently fulfilling its purpose: to make the dough grow.
Jesus also compares His Kingdom with a treasure found in a field and a pearl with great value. In both cases, those who founded them went and sold everything, one to buy the field and the treasure in it, and the other one to buy the pearl. In both parables, people took a high risk. They sold everything to gain what they thought was most important. That reminds me what Paul wrote in Philippians 3:7-9 “But whatever were gains to me I now consider loss for the sake of Christ. What is more, I consider everything a loss because of the surpassing worth of knowing Christ Jesus my Lord, for whose sake I have lost all things. I consider them garbage that I may gain Christ and be found in him,” for Jesus and Paul the Kingdom is something worth leaving everything behind.
Finally, Jesus compares His Kingdom with a fishing net. A fishing net does not discriminate. It just catches everything.
The message of God’s Kingdom is a great need in today’s world; people need to hear the good news of Jesus Christ. We the church of Jesus Christ need to raise our voices louder than the bad news we hear every day. We have to remind the world that the Kingdom of God is in our midst, and as proof of that, we will show the signs of the Kingdom, which are love, unity, harmony, grace, mercy, forgiveness, and understanding. We, the church of Jesus, must be like a mustard tree, a place where people can come and find rest and peace, a place where people can come and find hope. We must be promoters of God’s Kingdom
God’s Kingdom is in our midst because in here, Jesus reigns; because we have declared with our mouth and believed in our heart that Jesus and no one else is our Lord. Therefore, God’s Kingdom is in us. We are the mustard tree.
We, everyone who belongs to the church of Jesus, are yeast. We are tools in God’s hands; it is with us that He will continue building His Kingdom. Sadly, TV and Newspapers present a different reality, the Kingdom of darkness; the Kingdom of evil seems to be growing faster than God’s Kingdom.
Now, my sisters and brothers more than ever in a long time, the world needs to hear the good news of the Kingdom of God. Now more than ever in a long time, the world needs to see Christ’s Church taking its leadership and showing signs of the Kingdom. Now more than ever in a long time Christ’ Church must live according to the principles Jesus gave us in the sermon of the mountain.
I want to invite you to end my meditation, praying for peace and healing for our country.
As we face these uncertain times in our nation and the world, we ask you, Lord, to dwell among us. We are comforted by the knowledge that You alone are our Savior and Lord, and the ultimate Master of life. We trust our nation to Your loving care, Lord. Send Your Spirit to touch the hearts of our nation’s leaders. Please give them the wisdom to know what is right, and the courage to do it. Give us Your light and Your truth to guide us in our ways so that we may seek Your will in our lives and impact the world around us for Your Kingdom. In Jesus’ Name, we pray.